#1. “I am a great listener. This week I will listen to what people have to say”
Each week I’m reporting here on my personal experience in implementing my 52 Intentional Affirmations. These are designed to help us be more intentionally mindful of the impact our intentions have on living a happy, flourishing and prosperous life. (Click Here to start work on your own 52 Intentional Affirmations).
Having the affirmation as the Lock Screen Wallpaper on my iPhone really did help keep me intentionally reminded to really listen to what people had to say, and I’m happy to report I had quite a few conversations where I was proactively and intentionally listening. There’s something special in moments of conversation when you know in your heart of hearts that you’re really listening to what someone else is saying. Reciprocity kicks in and mutual understanding and respect is achieved.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
In Hugh Mackay’s “Why Don’t People Listen?” he points out that the words we use don’t actually send the message… it’s how they’re interpreted by others through their own lens of perception and experience where the meaning is gained.
I certainly recognised that in many of the conversations I had this week.
What’s been really interesting is that as I’ve been focusing on really listening, it’s increased my intentional focus on how I’m delivering my messages as well.
Just one example was when Liz and I were discussing an overseas trip we are planning. It really is so easy to get lazy with what we’re saying and how we’re listening, and this unintentionally can result in a bit of a communication spiral. Of course it’s easy for me to just say it’s Liz who doesn’t understand me, when in reality, if the message isn’t being received, and knowing that Liz’s intention is of course to understand, then I needed to work harder at saying what I was saying in a way that Liz could actually get it.
Did you get the really important bit in that? Most people I’m convinced, when they are in conversations with others (especially with people they care about), are listening with the intention of wanting to understand and rarely would they be trying to intentionally not understand.
However, when they don’t understand, it’s so easy for it to be their fault – they just don’t get what we’re saying.
So yes, I’ve caught myself (or in reality, I was caught out) doing the major eye roll and sighing when I wasn’t understood, only to have the mirror held up to me with a sometimes not too subtle “Well you’re not listening to me either” to enable me to be practically prodded back into the moment with mindful intention.
Sadly, I also caught myself this week while watching the Australian Open Tennis in an attempted communication multi-task. My youngest son comes into the lounge room and starts a conversation with me. I’m listening to him but watching Federer fall further behind. And although it was another ‘reactive’ listening moment, rather than intentional proactive listening, I found it pretty easy to apologise and get back into the moment and genuinely listen. We had a wonderfully deep chat about his new job and some stuff he was troubled by, that I might have missed out on… Intention matters!
So my lessons that I’ve relearned over the past week and continually learning, is that to be a great listener and to proactively listen with intention more often you need to:
Start with an intention to genuinely want to understand the other person’s point of view
- Constantly remind yourself (eg., I have the affirmation as my iPhone wallpaper) and use the power of intentional mindfulness to be in each conversation
- Remove as many distractions as you can when entering a conversation
- When you catch yourself not listening – fess up, apologise and get back to intentional listening
The affirmation I’m working on next is #2 – “I have so much to smile about. This week I will remember to smile a little more.” I’ll let you know how I go.